Free Counseling for Medicare Recipients

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Free health insurance programs are being offered in Fort Wayne to provide counseling for recipients of Medicare. The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) is an impartial counseling program provided by the Indiana Department of Insurance. The staff of volunteer counselors have received intensive training to offer objective assistance to its attendees. The program will help Medicare recipients compare their present plan with those for 2017 to ensure they have a plan that will work for them and help them make informed decisions. If you are a Medicare beneficiary, visit the Fort Wayne SHIP website or call 260-373-7952.

How to Care for Your Pet After You Die

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Although you cannot leave money directly to your pet in your Will, there are other options to make sure that your pet is taken care of after you die. You can leave your pet to someone in your Will or Trust. Choosing a new owner for your pet is one of the most important provisions you can make for your pet. Legally, your pet is considered as property so you can leave your pet to anyone you want in your Will or Trust. It would be a good idea, though, to speak with the new owner first and let them know your wishes regarding your pet. You want to make sure that they are willing and able to take care of your pet. Because circumstances change, you may want to name an alternate beneficiary for your pet.

It is a big responsibility to care for a pet so you may want to leave the new owner some money to go toward the costs of caring for your pet. While leaving the money and your pet to a new owner is legally enforceable, you cannot stipulate that they use the money toward the care of your pet. You can make the gift in your Will conditional, but this is generally impractical and difficult to enforce. You could say that the new owner will receive the money as long as he/she continues to provide proper care for your pet until its death. The executor of your estate has the responsibility to enforce the terms of your Will as long as the estate is open with the probate court. Usually, it takes about six months to a year for the probate to get wrapped up. Because it is difficult to enforce this, you want to make sure that you leave your pet to someone you trust to take good care of it.

Keeping your estate plan up to date is very important when caring for your pets. If your pet dies before you, the money you intended for your pet’s care may still go to the beneficiary. To prevent this from happening, you can make the clause conditional so that the money is only given if your pet is still alive. If you don’t make any plans for your pet, then your pet will go to the residuary beneficiary named in your Will. Without a Will, your pet will go to your closest relative, according to the laws of intestacy.

Why You Can’t Leave Money to Your Pet

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Many people view their pets as their family members. It’s only natural, then, that they would want their pets cared for after they die. Some people try to leave money or property to their pet. However, the law views pets as property, not people. Property cannot own another piece of property, only people can. Because a pet cannot own property, it cannot be named as a beneficiary in your Will. If you do name your pet as a beneficiary, the property you tried to leave it will probably go to the alternate beneficiary. If there is no alternate named, then the property will go to the residuary beneficiary (the person named to receive everything left over from your estate). If there is no residuary beneficiary named, then the property will probably be distributed according to the laws of intestacy.

In all likelihood, your pet will not receive anything and the result will not be what you intended. However, there are legally valid ways to make sure that your pet receives proper care after you die. For example, you can leave your pet to someone in your Will that you trust will take care of it. Also, you can set up a trust with money to care for your pet. Our next post will discuss how you can care for your pet after you die.

How Much Does Long-Term Care for Aging Parents Cost?

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Caring for your parents is an emotional and stressful time. In addition to these anxieties, there are huge financial obligations that accompany caring for your aging parents.

Nursing Homes. Around the clock care in a nursing home is very expensive. Costs for nursing home care will vary widely depending on your location and the quality of the facility. The US Department of Health and Human Services estimates that the average cost per day is $229 (or $6,965 per month).

Assisted Living Facilities. Some aging parents might not require 24/7 care. They may be able to live somewhat independently with assistance for meals and medication. In an assisted living facility, staff will regularly check on your parents but allow them to maintain their typical daily routines. Average costs for a one-bedroom unit in an assisted living facility are $3,293 per month.

Home Health Aide. If your parents want to (and are able to) stay in their current home for as long as possible, then they may benefit from a home health aide. The aides usually work in shifts of two to four hours. You can schedule visits as often or as little as you want. The average cost for a home health aide is $21 per hour. The price is generally higher on weekends and holidays.

Adult Day Services. If you provide most of the long-term care for your aging parents, then you may want to consider adult day services. These services will help monitor your parents while you are away at work. Typical costs for an adult day health care center average $67 per day.

Medicare Premiums. If your parents are enrolled in Medicare, you may be paying more than $3,000 a year in premiums.  However, the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimates the average cost of a hospital stay is $2,000 per day, so you will quickly meet your deductible if your parent must go to the hospital.

Supplemental Insurance. Because Medicare does not cover everything, many people supplement their coverage with private health insurance. Monthly health insurance premiums can range from $161-213, depending on where you live and how much coverage you have. Private, full-coverage health insurance can cost as much as $10,000-17,000 a year in premiums.

Prescription Costs. The American Society of Consultant Pharmacists reports that a senior between the ages of 64 and 69 takes an average of 14 prescriptions per year while a senior 80 to 84 takes 18 prescriptions per year. The cost for prescriptions will vary widely depending on your parents’ conditions. With so many prescriptions, though, the costs can add up fast. In addition, many seniors require over-the-counter medication, glasses, hearing aids, walkers, adult diapers, and other medical supplies.

Non-Medical Expenses. There may be non-medical expenses involved with your parents’ long-term care. For example, there may be moving expenses if you parents needs to live closer to you or you to them. If you decide to have your parent live with you, then there may be home modification costs involved to make your home more accessible. Also, you may miss work because you are caring for your parents.

Obviously there are numerous costs and factors to consider when caring for your aging parents. However, there is financial assistance available through programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, Veteran’s Affairs, and long-term care insurance. One of our attorneys would be happy to help you with asset reallocation and long-term planning so your parents can be well cared for as long as they need.

Planned Giving Council of Northeast Indiana

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The Planned Giving Council of Northeast Indiana (PGCNI) is a non-profit organization created in 1995. The goal of the PGCNI is to bring charitable gift planning professionals together to promote planned giving, promote education and professional expertise of council members, and encourage networking and support among its members.  With these goals, the PGCNI members are better able to serve their clients and charitable institutions they support. Members comprise of a various fundraisers, attorneys, accountants, financial and estate planners, trust administrators, and investment and insurance specialists. Our own Leah Good is on the board as co-chair of the program committee. As such, she helps develop the program of topics and speakers for the luncheon meetings.

Janitor Leaves Most of His $8 Million Fortune to Library and Hospital

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A janitor and gas station attendant named Ronald Read died recently at age 92. Ronald’s life shows that you can become a multi-millionaire without a massive paycheck. Ronald came from humble beginnings. He was the first in his family to graduate high school. He served in North Africa, Italy, and the Pacific theater during World War 1. After the war, he came home and married a woman with two children. He began working as a gas station attendant and janitor at JCPenney. Ronald was a very frugal man and never spent money unless he had to. He was an excellent stock picker as well and owned at least 95 stocks at the time of his death. Unbeknownst to his family, Ronald had amassed an $8 million fortune. His generous spirit moved him to donate $1.2 million to the Brooks Memorial Library in Vermont. He also bequeathed $4.8 million to the local hospital where he regularly ate breakfast.

These generous donations were made possible because he made specific bequests in his Will. When you have a Will, you can make specific gifts to any person or organization that you would like. Without a Will, your property and assets are distributed according to the state’s laws of intestacy. Our attorneys can help you plan your estate so you can leave a legacy for your family and hometown, just as Ronald did.

New Law for Estate Tax Returns

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On March 23, the IRS issued a new law regarding estate tax returns. The value of the property a person inherits from a decedent must be consistent with the value of the property as finally determined for Federal estate tax purposes. The law also created a new section about documents required. The executor of an estate (who is required to file an estate tax return) must provide certain statements to the IRS and to beneficiaries of the estate. This also applies to 6018(b) filers. Per the new law, the reports made by the estate and by the beneficiaries must be consistent.